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 Eastern Hemlock cross laminated timber is now commercially available to builders
[Mar 24, 2024]

 Eastern Hemlock cross-laminated timber
Eastern Hemlock cross-laminated timber (CLT) is certified for production

EIN Presswire.com/ -- Eastern Hemlock, a ubiquitous and underutilized evergreen tree species in the northeastern United States, is now available for commercial cross-laminated timber (CLT) building projects for the first time after a multi-year project brings the tree species to the market. CLT is part of the new mass timber construction technique that uses glued pieces of lumber to make beams and large solid wood panels for floors and walls. Up until now, only timber species from the south and western U.S. and outside the country were available for CLT buildings.

¡°Functionally, this is the first time that the building community can call a manufacturer and order CLT panels made from Eastern Hemlock, and also Spruce-Pine-Fir sourced from the northeast. This is an exciting step that supports the regional forest economy, can reduce climate change impacts, and provides additional options for the building community,¡± notes Charlie Levesque, Executive Director of the North East State Foresters Association who led the commercialization efforts of Eastern Hemlock CLT. 

Funded by a grant from the USDA Forest Service, the Eastern Hemlock Cross Laminated Timber Certification and Demonstration Project has taken initial demonstration work conducted with Eastern Hemlock at the University of Massachusetts in 2019 by Dr. Peggi Clouston, Professor, of Wood Mechanics and Timber Engineering, Building and Construction Technology, to the formal certification phase, allowing it to be used in commercial buildings. And now this ground-breaking work has also spurred on full commercialization of the species of tree and the mass timber building technology so that CLT panels are now installed as part of two commercial building projects in the northeast region and more are on the way.

According to WoodWorks, a national non-profit organization that advocates and provides technical support for building construction with wood, the northeast US has seen 168% growth in built mass timber projects over the last two and a half years. For the hemlock project, CLT manufacturer SmartLam participated in the first phase at their plant in Alabama while ongoing commercialization is occurring at the Phoenix, Illinois CLT manufacturer Sterling Structural where builders can now purchase CLT made from the species.

An addition to the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, Vermont and a brand new multi-functional 5-story commercial building at the 154 Broadway building in Somerville, Massachusetts both have Eastern Hemlock CLT installed as they complete these buildings in 2024.

¡°Public funding has been a catalyst for these innovative products and funders are often overlooked, but instrumental, partners in these shared efforts. They play an important role and should be credited for their critical contributions,¡± notes Andy Fast, Forest Industry Specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension. Funding for Eastern Hemlock certification was provided by the USDA Forest Service and Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An additional northeastern timber species group, Spruce-fir certification was supported by the Northern Forest Center, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, and U.S. Economic Development Administration. Fast notes that ¡°Using mass timber provides tremendous ecological, societal, and economic benefits.¡± 

A full report of the project findings can be found at https://nefainfo.org/files/NEFA.UNH.HemlockCLTProjectReport.FINAL.3.14.24.pdf
Source: wicz.com